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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

APAC and SASA collaborate to celebrate Diwali

Junior and SASA co-president Mimi Aspi created rangoli at the Diwali celebration. Rangoli is an art form that uses colorful patterns and is meant to bring happiness and liveliness.

With the sound of Indian music dancing throughout room 211, students gathered to celebrate Diwali in an event organized by the Asian and Pacific American Club (APAC) and the South Asian Student Alliance (SASA) during X-block on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Diwali, whose date varies each year, typically falls in October or November and lasts five or six days. This year, it took place from Nov. 9-14. The holiday, widely celebrated in South Asian countries and across religions, commemorates the victory of light over darkness, or good over evil.

The celebration began with a brief slideshow from SASA’s co-presidents explaining the origins, reach and practices associated with Diwali, also known to many as the “Festival of Lights.” Afterward, students promptly lined up to feast on Indian foods like vegetable samosas, gulab jamun and soan papdi, among others. Doing Mehndi (known commonly in Western nations as henna) and making rangoli, colorful patterns meant to bring happiness and liveliness, also proved popular.

Junior and SASA co-president Mimi Aspi said the event is crucial to the club’s aim: advancing representation of South Asian culture.

“I and many other South Asian students are frustrated at the way in which we have been portrayed in curricula and beyond. When we are represented, the unique facets of our identities are often overlooked in favor of generalizations,” Aspi said. “With this event, we hoped to demonstrate the joy and liveliness within our culture, not simply the struggle.”

Aspi spent the majority of the celebration making rangoli. She drew comparisons between the art form and her own identity.

“I layered my design, which happened to be of a flower with an array of colors—red, pink, yellow, purple. The product was so intricate and nuanced, and I realized that I was the same: my identity is multifaceted,” Aspi said. “That’s certainly something that should be celebrated and showcased, not hidden away.”

The event was one of several collaborations between APAC and SASA in recent years. Senior and SASA co-president Dhevin Nahata said these partnerships were vital.

“This event is a special and important one to me,” Nahata said. “It is always an incredible opportunity for two underrepresented communities to come together, have fun and embrace our cultures.”

Senior and APAC co-president Justina Wang echoed Nahata’s sentiments and added that attending the event and participating in the activities acted as a window into another culture.

“I don’t celebrate Diwali in my own home, but I was able to learn from SASA members, such as those doing henna, about the significance of light and the traditions associated with the holiday,” Wang said. “That’s the importance of celebrating holidays like Diwali at the high school—we can learn about, understand and celebrate cultures different from our own. That’s just incredible.”

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